Coral Diving in the Maldives

There are few divers who haven’t heard tales of the superlative diving awaiting in the Maldivian island chain. Yet, with over 1,000 coral islands, knowing where to dive can be challenging, to say the least. An overly simplistic but easy-to-remember guide is to head north for mantas and south for sharks. If you’re on a coral-hunting quest, you may just find the central reefs tickle your fancy a little more than those to the north or south. Aside from boasting the best coral diving in the Maldives, the central atolls also offer ample opportunities to spot reef sharks, manta rays and whale sharks... Our team of dive travel specialists has revelled in shark safaris in the south, witnessed manta aggregations in the north, and been blown away by the beautiful corals in between. We’re here, ready to assist you in crafting your dream itinerary to discover the best coral diving in the Maldives.

Kandooma Thila, South Malé Atoll

South Malé Atoll is situated just a short transfer away from Velana International Airport and is blessed with some of the finest coral diving sites in the Maldives. In the Maldives, the word 'thila' denotes a submerged pinnacle that rises to within a few metres of the surface. One of the most famous dives to such a pinnacle is at the site known as Kandooma Thila.

While the site can experience interesting currents at times, a gentle current actually enhances the display of brightly-hued soft corals. When there is a current, the soft coral trees become engorged with water, swaying gently to and fro. Those closer to the surface shimmer in the sunlight. The pinnacle is adorned with healthy hard corals, and its numerous overhangs are teeming with brightly-coloured soft corals. A quick glance downwards might even reveal a passing reef shark or eagle ray...

Maalhos Thila, North Ari Atoll

Travelling west from the airport and Malé will guide you to North Ari Atoll. This atoll, aside from boasting some of the best coral diving in the Maldives, is a frequent haunt for manta rays. Among its notable sites, Maalhos Thila, also known as Blue Caves, stands out with its impressive soft coral coverage. The pinnacle rises to within ten metres of the surface and is blanketed by blue and purple soft corals, complemented by striking hard coral formations.

In addition to offering some of the best coral diving in the Maldives, this site features a series of overhangs and caves, along with grey and whitetip reef sharks. Big-eyed soldierfish and blue-stripped snappers can also be seen peering out from the overhangs, while cryptic critters hide between the coral fronds. Although there can be current at times, the site is generally suitable for divers of all skill levels.

Seventh Heaven, South Ari Atoll

Sitting just below the North Ari Atoll, South Ari Atoll is famed for its pinnacles and channels, which attract an array of impressive marine species. Besides offering some of the best coral diving in the Maldives, there's also a good chance of encountering whale sharks and mantas cruising through the blue. Experienced divers can enjoy deep drifts among grey reef sharks, while those seeking a more relaxed experience can explore critter-filled lagoons.

For coral enthusiasts, Seventh Heaven stands out as one of the most vividly hued sites in the atoll. This site boasts spacious overhangs and caverns adorned with rainbow-colored soft corals at the entrances, which also drape from the ceilings, occasionally providing shelter for resting whitetip reef sharks. The sandy depths may also reveal torpedo rays and stingrays. As you ascend the pinnacle, keep an eye out for turtles munching on the bubble corals, while a quick glance away might also reveal an eagle ray conducting a fly-by.

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